While the detail might be considered “divisive”, the following email exchange is in the public’s interest. Readers can make up their own minds on the content and politics.
Friday, 1 November 2013 10:37 a.m.
—— Forwarded Message
From: Lee Vandervis
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 10:49:07 +1300
]To: Chris Morris [ODT]
Subject: Re: Appointments
Clearly my long business and Council experience has been sidelined by Mayor Cull as all inside Council Committees positions were closed to me, not just the really influential Chair positions but all other Council Committee positions as well. This is what Mayor Cull meant when he said of positions of responsibility – ‘I have given you nothing’.
The supposed ‘roles’ outside Council Committees that have been offered have been roles of so little use or interest that the Mayor was having trouble getting any Councillor, experienced or otherwise, to go on them. I volunteered for three of these outside Council Committee ‘roles’ but again was denied all of them.
Many of these outside Council ‘roles’ have been recently scraped or numbers of Councillors on them reduced, recognising that they are largely a waste of Councillor’s time. In the past the Mayor has had trouble finding Councillors willing to serve on them, and then trouble getting Councillors to show up once they had agreed to attend. At least when I was on such outside Council committees like Olveston , Regent Theatre, Settlers Museum, etc my attendance record was second to none, and I have done my long stints on minor committees, inside and outside Council since 2004.
My three years on the Otago Settlers Museum outside Council Committee was particularly frustrating as I was unable to influence the waste of vast amounts being spent on ridiculous items like the $700,000 glasshouse for the AB Steam Locomotive with cheap reflective glass!, or the insincere pushing of an insane observation tower to boost other budgets.
The Mayor should make up his mind whether he stands by his statement that ‘I have given you nothing’ or by his other claim that he has offered me roles. He can not claim both. The ‘roles’ he now claims have been offered to me are are all outside Council Committees and of so little consequence that the Mayor can not even remember which ones he has offered me. There is nothing to ‘work hard’ at or points to prove in such outside Council roles offered. My record of hard work and attendance on Council stands second to none.
I do not recall the Grants subcommittee offer, but I would have rejected it because I have done Grants before and am opposed to the wholesale degradation of the Grants process which used to promote Community Projects when I was first elected in 2004, but now has become largely a rate-paid gravy-train for the well-connected.
Hopefully that fully answers the contradictory claims by Mayor Cull that he both has, and has not, given me nothing.
On 31/10/13 9:54 AM, “Chris Morris” [ODT] wrote:
A couple of follow-ups from your email.
1. You haven’t really directly addressed the second question in my original email (below) – how you can claim to be sidelined when you were offered roles, albeit ones you didn’t really want, and turned them down?
2. The mayor says you have, to some extent, sidelined yourself by declining roles you didn’t like. Would you not have been better to accept whatever you were offered, and work hard at it to prove a point, than say no?
3. The mayor says you were (either in writing or via staff) offered at least three roles – the Toitu board role, a spot on the grants subcommittee, and a third one he can’t recall. Do you recall the grants subcommittee offer? And, if so, why did you turn that down (my understanding is that subcommittee would be an internal role)?
On 30/10/2013 6:40 PM, Lee Vandervis wrote:
I was refused all 3 outside appointments that I indicated I would be prepared to work at, as well as all possible inside appointments by Mayor Cull.
I was only belatedly offered Toitu [which I had already just served 3 years on] and one other reserve nothing type appointment because staff could not get anyone else to agree to serve on them.
Mayor Cull has been unusually true to his word when he said “I have given you nothing”. That he now tries to pretend he has given me something after all is laughable.
I do not just claim to be sidelined, but to have been personally abused by Mayor Cull who has accused both me and Cr Calvert on nationwide TV as ‘having shonky policies’ without saying what these are.
I have great ability and experience which the biggest-spending and money-wasting Infrastructure Services Committee desperately needs and now will not get as its Chair because of a petulant Mayor who can not bear being exposed or criticised, and has given the Chair to a well-meaning Councillor with irrelevant legal training and no engineering understanding.
I wanted the University role because I have strong University connections, knowledge and mutually beneficial ideas for the University/DCC relationship which has stagnated in recent years. My wife is a senior lecturer there, I still have staff relationships for when I got my degree there, I have been a provider of sound and lighting system to the University for 30 years [and lived in Dundas st for 15] and want to improve parking, 30 km safety zones, better conference business cooperation rather than the current competition, and get real Uni/DCC joint ventures happening.
I wanted Otago Museum because I have worked there [eg supplied Butterfly House and other sound] because it is a Committee I have never been on before, and because Dr. Ian Griffin is a brilliant bloke who is open to new ideas. We share a love of astronomy and technology which few other Councillors understand.
Gasworks is again a Committee I have not been on before, and the opportunities for what could be done there became evident in my time as Chair of the Heritage Fund, and Heritage Buildings re-use Committee. Love of technology and its history also make this attractive.
My time on the Toitu Board was unrewarding mainly because of a management [since moved on] that were impervious to suggestions or my input. The extraordinary amount of money that was not well spent on the Toitu development was kept out of reach in terms of information [especially by Graeme Hall] and then Linda Wigley. I always felt that I was being treated like the proverbial mushroom when trying to get better value for the enormous spend at Toitu.
I am unaware of being offered any 3rd role unless it was some reserve Committee that nobody wanted to go on and staff were trying to get anybody at all.
On 30/10/13 3:02 PM, “Chris Morris” [ODT] wrote:
You’re probably aware I’ve had released to me today some emails relating to your run-in with Mayor Cull over the appointments process. In particular I’ve had emails relating to the outside appointments process released. They show you went for three roles, including the University Council role, but also that you were offered (and turned down) the offer to continue in your Toitu board role. Cull has also told me, in a subsequent interview this afternoon, that you were offered at least two other outside appointments verbally, the grants subcommittee and another (which he couldn’t recall), but also turned them down.
I’m interested in your comments on all this, particularly given your comments last week about the Mayor wanting to “completely sideline” you.
Can you respond to the following by 5pm:
1. Why did you turn down the outside appointments?
2. How can you claim to be sidelined, when you are offered roles and reject them?
3. The Mayor says you have sidelined yourself – what is your response?
4. Why did you want the University Council role, when it is (I’m told) traditionally always taken by the Mayor of the day?
5. Why did you want the other two roles (Otago Museum and Gasworks)?
6. Why did you consider your time on the Toitu board “unrewarding”, and the offer to continue in that role “insulting”? Aren’t there other councillors that have also accepted roles they would rather not have?
7. What was the third role you were offered and turned down? Were there any others, and why did you say no?
Feel free to add anything else and I’ll take a look.
—— End of Forwarded Message
Above, Cr Vandervis says: I do not just claim to be sidelined, but to have been personally abused by Mayor Cull who has accused both me and Cr Calvert on nationwide TV as ‘having shonky policies’ without saying what these are.
[Interviewed by 3News before the elections] Mr Cull says he’s quietly confident he’ll get another term in office, and isn’t worried about his eight rivals. “Six of them have no public office experience, and the other two that do have a pretty shonky record at public office experience. You know, extreme, nutty policies.”
Screenshot —Mayor Cull (3News 7.10.13), read and view the item here.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr